Christina Applegate opens up about depression from multiple sclerosis

By Mawunyo Gbogbo for the ABC

Christina Applegate was applauded for her exceptional comic timing at the [Emmys] earlier this year, but the actor was fighting a private battle at the time.

Applegate has opened up about the depression she’s experiencing caused by her multiple sclerosis on the latest episode of her podcast Messy, recorded months ago, but released this week.

“This is being really honest,” Applegate said to her podcast co-host Jamie-Lynn Sigler, also an actor living with MS.

“I don’t enjoy living. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t enjoy things anymore.

“If someone’s like, let’s get up and go for a walk and or let’s go get a coffee … I don’t enjoy that process.”

Applegate was diagnosed with MS almost three years ago, while Sigler has had MS for about 23 years.

Applegate spoke about her Emmys’ appearance, during which she was led on stage by Emmys host Anthony Anderson.

Referring to it as “the television thing,” the actor said it took a lot out of her.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: (L-R) Christina Applegate and host Anthony Anderson speak onstage during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.   Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by KEVIN WINTER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

“That was like the hardest day of my life,” Applegate said.

“It started at 11 o’clock in the morning and I didn’t get home till 9:30 (pm).

“I think I slept for two days straight after that. I couldn’t function.”

Sigler comforted her co-host, acknowledging that it’s “hard to live in a disabled body”.

“But what makes it harder is when you compare it to how it used to be,” she said.

Applegate opened up further.

“I’m in a depression right now, which I don’t think I’ve felt that for, like, years.

“Like a real f***-it-all depression, like real depression, where it’s kind of scaring me too a little bit, because it feels really fatalistic … I’m trapped in this darkness right now that I haven’t felt like that in, I don’t even know how long, probably 20-something years.”

Applegate said she called her therapist and would see her the following week.

“And so my way of doing things is to make fun of myself or, you know, at that stage the first thing that came out of my mouth was literally self-deprecation because I could feel myself going into that space of where I wasn’t going to be able to stop or read what I’m supposed to read without, I don’t know, making people laugh or making them feel more comfortable about it.

“I mean, I was so disabled that I slurred the word disabled.”

Sigler said what most people thought about Applegate at the Emmys.

“How you reacted in that moment was perfect,” she said.

“In that moment, you do need to break it up with humour and laughter, because that’s how you get through these … big moments.”

Sigler said Applegate also needed to have those moments where she can break down, cry and “sit with it” with a professional who can guide her through it.

“And this is also why medication exists,” Sigler said.

“Thank God there are therapies and modalities, but also medication to help people through this, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: (L-R) Christina Applegate and host Anthony Anderson speak onstage during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.   Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by KEVIN WINTER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Applegate said she was experiencing tunnel vision at the time the podcast was recorded and was upset about having to put her acting career on pause.

“I’m sad about it,” Applegate said.

“I wasn’t sad about not having to get up early.

“I’m really fine with that and getting in a car and driving some place and people touching my face with the make-ups and the hairs and the things. I’m totally fine with not doing that for a minute, but I do miss creating.”

She chided herself for indulging in her sorrow.

“I can’t believe it’s going to be three years since diagnosis in June,” she said.

“And I’m still sitting here like boohoo, woe is me … but … I’m still mad about it.”

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibres and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.

Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerve fibres.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can differ greatly from person to person and over the course of the disease, but common symptoms include:

  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of your body at a time
  • Tingling
  • Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward (Lhermitte sign)
  • Lack of coordination
  • Unsteady gait or inability to walk
  • Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
  • Prolonged double vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Vertigo
  • Problems with sexual, bowel and bladder function
  • Fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • Cognitive problems
  • Mood disturbances

Who does it affect and what are the causes?

The cause of MS is unknown but there are certain factors that may increase your risk of developing it:

  • Age (It can occur at any age, but onset usually happens between 20-40)
  • Gender (Women are more likely to be affected)
  • Family history
  • Certain infections
  • Race. White people, particularly those of Northern European descent, are at highest risk of developing MS.
  • Climate. MS is far more common in countries with temperate climates, including south-eastern Australia and New Zealand
  • Having low levels of vitamin D and low exposure to sunlight is associated with a greater risk of MS.
  • Genes
  • Obesity
  • Certain autoimmune diseases
  • Smoking

How is MS diagnosed?

There are no specific tests for MS. Instead, a diagnosis often relies on ruling out other conditions that might produce similar signs and symptoms, known as a differential diagnosis.

Is there a cure?

There is no cure for MS. Treatment typically focuses on speeding recovery from attacks, reducing new radiographic and clinical relapses, slowing the progression of the disease, and managing symptoms.

Source: Mayo Clinic

This story was first published by the ABC.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email

What’s Up: free counselling for 5 to 19 years old, online chat 11am-10.30pm 7days/week or free phone 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 11am-11pm Asian Family Services: 0800 862 342 Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm or text 832 Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. Languages spoken: Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and English.

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

OUTLine: 0800 688 5463 (6pm-9pm)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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